Comments on CDL exemption request due Monday, June 24

June 21, 2024

Mark Schremmer


If a pair of motor carriers’ exemption request is granted, thousands of additional student drivers will be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL holder in the passenger seat.

Covenant Transport and Landair Transport – who are working jointly as Covenant Logistics – recently asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for an exemption from CDL regulations.

Current regulations require a CDL holder with the proper class and endorsements to be seated in the front while a commercial learner’s permit holder is driving on public roads or highways. The exemption would allow Covenant Logistics student drivers who passed the skills test but have not yet received the CDL document to drive a commercial motor vehicle accompanied by a CDL holder “who is not necessarily in the passenger seat.”

Covenant Logistics requested a two-year exemption. The companies estimate that, if granted, about 4,000 drivers would operate under the exemption each year. According to the notice, the companies hire about 2,400 new drivers each year through its driver training schools.

FMCSA is accepting comments on the exemption request through Monday, June 24. Those who would like to comment can click here or go to and enter Docket No. FMCSA-2024-0063.

Covenant Logistics’ request is similar to an exemption that FMCSA already has granted to several carriers.

FMCSA recently renewed a similar exemption for CRST. Stevens Transport, New Prime, CR England, Werner Enterprises and Wilson Logistics also are operating under exemptions that no longer require the trainer to be in the passenger seat.

As of Thursday, June 20, Covenant Logistics’ request had received 21 comments. The majority came from truck drivers asking FMCSA to deny the exemption.

“No, no and no again,” Lee Phillips wrote. “Even if trainee has passed the skills test, they have no road (experience). Even after the CDL is obtained, they still should have a CDL-experienced driver with them until they have many miles under their belt.” LL